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Royal Palace of La Magdalena

Located on the La Magdalena Peninsula (an area of great beauty) and facing the Island of Mouro, the Royal Palace of La Magdalena stands as one of the most iconic places in Santander and serves as a socio-historical landmark in the city.

Besides the palace itself, it is also possible to visit the stables, a small zoo and the raft and three galleons with which the Cantabrian explorer Vital Alsar crossed the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The Royal Palace of La Magdalena is open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00.

Image: Fernandopascullo

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From La Porticada to Puertochico

In Santander, we have met one of these persons who knows the town like the back of his hand. While he is talking about history and curiosities of Santander, he takes us through different bars and taverns in order to show us every specialty of each place.

At a dramatic pace we go from one tavern to other while he recommends us tasting the best bite of cod, or he warns how rude is the waiter in that place but let´s going in because they have the best seafood! Or “here there is the bestpiconcheese you can ever taste” There is no time to waste because in Santander there are many good taverns and he wants to show us all of them (or, at least, he will try)

The tavern tour is not quite expensive, because in Santander bites and plates are cheaper than in other northern towns. Bites cost between €1 and €2,50 and plates between €6 and €18 depending on what is ordered.

From beautiful Plaza Porticada (arcaded square), that hosted the International Festival of Santander for many years, to the popular neighborhood of Puertochico let´s walk around the excellent cuisine of Santander!

El Marucho
Calle Tetuán 21

Typical restaurant and bar without any comfort but where you can enjoy some exellent fish and seafood well-priced. Here we tasted some extraordianr rabas. During the high season it is not easy to find a place.

La Flor de Tetuán
Calle Tetuán 18

The specialty of this bar is fish and seafood. Prize is higher than in other local places but they serve the best grilled shrimp in Santander (plate costs about €12). Rabas, barnacles, spatter ... all the seafood is great!.

La Bodega de Santoña
Calle Peña Herbosa 21, enfrente del edificio del Gobierno Regional

Typical products from Cantabria like cheese and anchovies.

Casa Lita
Paseo de Pereda 37, al lado de Puerto chico

Great assortment of tapas and snacks from the more classic ones, like the bite of tortilla (Spanish omelette) to their own specialty Cantabrian bite. His chef, Joseba Guijarro, has one Michelin star and Casa Lita has awards for the quality of its bites.

Bodega Fuente Dé
Calle Peña Herbosa

Here we find picón cheese, an excellent blue cheese made in Cantabria. When you get into Bodega Fuente Dé, a hard mix of smells of cheese and pickles bits your nose. Few minutes later, this smell develops in an addictive fragance.They also serve tapas and typical dishes like cocido montañés, cocido lebaniego or picadillo de Potes.

El Solorzano
Calle Peña Herbosa 17

Vermouth with siphon. Great assortisment of tapas, mussels, rabas (squid rings), (tentacles), and many others.

El Diluvio
Calle General Mola 14

Just like Casa Lita, this place is a pioneer in Santander in serving elaborated tapas as País Vasco style. La Cigaleña
Daoiz y Velarde, 19

Un auténtico museo del vino en el que probar especialmente la tapa de bacalao rebozado. Riquísimas.

Tapas y Vinos
Calle Marcelino Sautuola

Rioja wine well-served and excellent tapas. The best one is the Spanish omelette with pork rinds.

El Tivoli
Calle Marcelino Sautuola

Exquisite squid rings and tentacles and very well served portions of ham.

La Conveniente
Calle de Gómez Oreña, 9

With to El Marucho, it is one of the most frequented by Santander visitors. Good plates of anchovies and fried bites served on big tables, that we ate all together listening a piano music.

El Cañadio
Calle de Gómez Oreña, 15

Excellent tapas cooked by one of the best chefs in the town. Here we ended the tapas tour because we ate too much not because there were no more bars or restaurants.

When we were returning home, he still recommended us to go to El Riojano (that looks like a museum with its painted by celebrities barrels), La Gloria, El Cantabria, Las Hijas de Florencio, La Malinche, Días de Sur, La Bodega de Jesús Quintanilla...

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If you are desperate to get away from the sweltering heat, take a look at these destinations and get ready to use a blanket at night.

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Experience the Wild

Cantabria’s mining past remains alive in the 750 hectares of reddish landscape which is home to the Cabárceno Nature Park. Situated just 15 kilometres from Santander, its proximity is inversely proportional to the feeling of being in a wholly different part of the planet. Here, around one hundred animal species from the five continents roam in semi-freedom, including African elephants, gorillas, the ankole-watusi, the addax, llamas and sea lions.

The open-air tracts of land are spacious and immensely beautiful. The flora lives out its natural cycle during the four annual seasons, so you see a different park in the spring, summer, autumn and winter. The structures left behind from the area’s mining past have been re-used to appoint the various enclosures in Cabárceno. Animals are kept on land which resembles their natural habitat as closely as possible, as here the terrain is accommodating. A number of lookouts bring home the immensity of the panoramic landscape and allow visitors to spot herds of Somali asses, water buffalo, Grevi zebra and ostriches. The karst relief characterised by water’s fickle erosive force makes for fascinating observation and enhances the act of animal spotting.

Nature is allowed to run its course in the park. There are fights between members of the same species, the rutting season unfolds and dominant males abound. Man only intervenes in the event of illness, wounds, a life-threatening situation for some specimen and to feed the animals. That is when the park provides its Wildlife Visit. From 10 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, a single vehicle seating 4 occupants drives through various areas inhabited by rhino, bears and giraffes. The tour costs €400, which includes a brunch in the park restaurant. Escorted by a ranger, visitors can get to see certain animals close up, as well as touch and feed them. This contact enables them to learn the traits and curiosities of each animal or species.

That is how you discover the three elegant giraffes that come running up to you because they see you arriving with a bag of carrots. All three are male and they get along well precisely because there are no females. Or you learn the amazing story of Jums, a 39-year-old African elephant that came from England and recognised one of its offspring that had been living in Cabárceno.

During the Wildlife Visit, guests are told about the rituals and training sessions conducted with some of the animals to get them accustomed to the presence of people for the sole purpose of enabling a vet to treat a wound or give them a medical check-up whenever necessary. This is a difficult task as wild animals retain their survival instinct and are thus wary of people, but it is gratifying to see how the staff’s daily work and their affection for the animals can work a miracle, as can an apple or a carrot!

The animals’ daily routine is not affected by the fortunate participants in the Wildlife Visit – book ahead, as there is a waiting list – and regular feeding times are strictly adhered to. The only enclosure where visitors are not allowed to get out of the car is that of the brown bears. However, a group of bears can be comfortably observed munching on a piece of bread or chicken through the car window just a few metres away. There are around 70 specimens in a 35-hectare space, which gives you some idea of how big the park is.

The Cabárceno Nature Park is dotted with natural lakes, and the 14 resident elephants relish bathing in waters up to 8 metres deep. The hippo enclosure here, rumoured to be the best in the world, is sited in the Lago Sexta, and a cableway is slated to run above this lake as of March 2016.

A one-day admission ticket to the Cabárceno Nature Park costs €25, and €15 for small children. However, we recommend you check out all the various types of admission, as there are discounts for families and “friends of Cabárceno”. Your ticket allows you to drive around the 20 kilometres of tracks in your own vehicle through all the areas. But, you are urged to observe the speed limit and safety precautions. Unfortunately, this unaccompanied drive-through does not allow you to touch or feed the animals; firstly, for safety reasons, as you will not be escorted by a ranger to guide you and, secondly, as each species has a specific diet at regular hours. A map is given to visitors at the entrance – the routes are clearly marked and you can download a mobile app which provides information on what you are seeing at all times. Park facilities include picnic areas for you to have a packed lunch at your leisure, and there are also cafés, restaurants and gift shops. Your ticket permits you to leave the park and re-enter later on. You are also allowed to make the tour in a camper van.

Your day trip will fly past as you observe the antics of fallow deer, red deer, gorillas, camels, displays of birds of prey and their types of flight, and sea lions cavorting about. (Don’t let them catch you calling them seals with ears – they don’t take kindly to being confused!) Whatever your age; if you like animals, this is where you will have a whale of a time!

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Text and images by Planeta Dunia

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